What are the differences between a Bookkeeper, a Management Accountant, and a Tax Accountant?
Many of our clients ask us why we talk about bookkeepers, management accountants, and tax accountants, and not just accountants.
A bookkeeper keeps track of all your daily financial transactions and assists in keeping your business organized. Receiving and paying bills, issuing invoices, categorizing expenses, taking inventory, and reconciling bank accounts are some of the daily and weekly tasks that form the core of a bookkeeper’s responsibility.
A management accountant leads the effort to provide insight into your business’s financial performance. Drafting budgets, tracking actual performance against budget, reconciling balance sheets creating cash flow forecasts, and performing inventory costings are among the duties of a management accountant to assist you in making decisions for your business.
A tax accountant provides a very specific service to calculate your taxes, minimize your chance of an audit, and guide your strategy, particularly when acquiring or selling a business or investing in assets, to minimize your potential tax liabilities.
Bookkeeping is More Than Just Crunching Numbers
While bookkeepers do a fair amount of data entry and receipt tracking, the heart of the process is labeling expenses, indicating which suppliers you paid and how much, as well as keeping a record of receipts. Your bookkeepers may also do double duty in payroll and work to prepare and issue invoices.
Even though bookkeeping work can be notably detailed, bookkeepers can be the foundation of surviving an audit. Business deductions are a huge IRS tax audit trigger. They set off alarms, which can be silenced with legal and meticulous record keeping.
What a Tax Accountant Does
Accountants perform a variety of accounting functions and are typically certified by national and professional associations. Accountants must a have a four-year college degree in accountancy. And additionally, depending on their specialty, they may have to spend up to a year earning a certification in their home state.
Tax accountants provide specialized tax advice. They calculate tax liabilities and provide strategies for legally lowering their clients’ tax liability. Business tax accountants typically have advanced degrees and help their clients with high-level strategic financial decisions. Senior-level tax accountants take more of a theoretical approach to their clients’ overall tax strategy, helping with business plans, individual financial plans—trusts, etc.—with the goal of taking full advantage of the tax code.
What does your business need: a Bookkeeper, a Management Accountant or a Tax Accountant?
In our opinion, small businesses such as wineries need all three, and should seek specialists in each field. Tax Accountants and Management Accountants can do your bookkeeping, but they are over-qualified, and you would be paying too much, as bookkeepers are the least expensive. However, bookkeepers need oversight, and a good management accountant can oversee and check a bookkeeper’s work to ensure accuracy, and then provide additional insight (that a bookkeeper isn’t trained to furnish) into your business to help you make better financial decisions.
Tax accountants are typically more expensive than management accountants, and their focus is on creating an accurate tax return that will minimize your tax liabilities and risk of an audit. They are more focused on providing an accurate report to the government than on developing recommendations for you to operate your business more efficiently. Management accountants are focused on helping you operate your business.
Protea Financial is Your Outsourced Bookkeeping and Management Accounting Services
We match our solutions to the needs of the customer. Do your bookkeepers need extra help during end-of-year closeout? Is your tax accountant asking you to assemble better financials in order to reduce the time they have to spend preparing your return?
Protea Financial can support you with everything from bookkeeping services, order processing and inventory tracking to handling management accounts and tax schedules in order to support your tax accountant prepare your year-end financial statements. Protea’s goal is to provide, at costs below the market average, timely, accurate, and high-quality financial information on which a business can act.
We can work with you to provide an evaluation and find the best solution for your business.